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POSTED: Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 6:30 AM
Filed Under: Kids | Michael Yudell | Race | Statistics

Despite slowly declining teen birth rates in the United States, more than 367,000 young women and girls ages 15-19 had babies in 2010, according to a recent vital statistics report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This number accounted for almost 10% of all births that year. Making matters worse, nearly 1 in 5 of those teen births was a repeat birth, meaning it was at least the second time that teen mother had had a baby. Most of those repeat births were for a second child, but over 12% of them were for births of a third child or more.

Teenagers having babies can have negative consequences for mother and child alike. According to a study by E. Ruedinger and J.E. Cox at Children’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School, outcomes for both are worsened by the social and economic factors affecting the women independently of their status as teen mothers.

Having a child can limit a teenage mom's ability to attend school or get a job. Teenage mothers also experience high rates of depression, substance abuse, and higher levels of intimate partner violence. They also, compared to their peers, have higher rates of poverty.

POSTED: Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 6:30 AM

During his State of the Union address last month, President Obama challenged the assembled lawmakers to tackle comprehensive immigration reform. The issue has proven a divisive one in our national political discourse, and most of the discussion focuses on the political ramifications. Pundits have discussed how immigration reform might impact the Latino vote, as well as what types of immigrants would be eligible for citizenship, and what the role of border security is, to name a few hotly-contested questions in the current debate. Amid this political maelstrom, few have considered how comprehensive immigration reform might affect the nation’s health. Understanding the health implications of immigration reform may contribute to the public discourse on the topic, and may also provide insights that are relevant to the equally divisive health reform debate. Remember that undocumented immigrants are explicitly excluded from Obamacare.

To examine this question carefully, I’ll first discuss what we know about the demographics of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Then I will review the available evidence describing the health of this population and their health care use. First, however, I would like to acknowledge the challenges to studying this vulnerable population and the potential inaccuracies of the resulting data. It is widely known that Census reports include small numbers of undocumented immigrants. It is just as hard to assess the health status of this population as it is to count their numbers. Undocumented immigrants are also under-represented in most large health surveys, with a few exceptions presented below. As a result, our knowledge about the health of undocumented immigrants and their use of the health-care system is limited.

According to the best available evidence, there are 11.1 million undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S. — more than one-quarter of the nation’s total immigrant population. It is estimated that there are 550,000 undocumented immigrants living in New Jersey, the fifth-largest of any state, and 160,000 in Pennsylvania, many of whom work in restaurants and have fueled the recent food renaissance in Philadelphia. At the national level, most undocumented immigrants are Latinos — 82 percent, to be exact. Because Latinos constitute the overwhelming majority of the nation’s undocumented immigrants, let’s focus on Latinos when reviewing the medical literature and discussing the impact of immigration reform on the nation’s overall health.

POSTED: Monday, November 14, 2011, 6:15 AM

The H1N1 pandemic of 2009-10 may be fading from memory for most. But for the public health community, swine flu provided a critical case study in how well-prepared we are for a widespread outbreak of novel communicable disease. The pandemic also offers important lessons on the persistence of health disparities and on the importance of public trust in public health emergencies.

So with flu season upon us, it seems a fitting time to review a June 2011 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office summarizing what worked and what didn’t with the federal government’s $4.1 billion H1N1 response effort.

Key findings:

POSTED: Wednesday, October 26, 2011, 5:00 AM
Kanye West in May. (Abdeljalil Bounhar / Associated Press)

Sir Elton John thinks Kanye West is a musical genius. President Obama thinks he’s a “jackass.” I think the superstar rapper is an interesting case study in how the medical atrocities of the past are far from forgotten.  

In the hit single “Heard ‘Em Say,” West states he “know[s] the government administered AIDS.”  West reaffirmed his position while passing through Philadelphia on tour for Live 8 (yes, the AIDS benefit...) and during an acceptance speech for an award, when he explained that the virus was planted in Africa to exploit the diamond trade. 

But West says lots of things. What’s the problem with this in particular?

About this blog

What is public health — and why does it matter?

Through prevention, education, and intervention, public health practitioners - epidemiologists, health policy experts, municipal workers, environmental health scientists - work to keep us healthy.

It’s not always easy. Michael Yudell, Jonathan Purtle, and other contributors tell you why.

Michael Yudell, PhD, MPH Associate Professor, Drexel University School of Public Health
Jonathan Purtle, MPH Doctoral candidate and Research Associate, Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice, Drexel University
Janet Golden, PhD Professor of history, Rutgers University-Camden
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